Their uncles exchanged photos of the two, which they shared with the young people. Robin saw Pragna’s photo and liked what he saw. “She was very cute,” he said.
Pragna noticed Robin’s photo was taken at the Grand Canyon, which looked good to her. “Then I said ‘Wow! He looks good too.”
The two began burning up the phone lines and decided to marry three weeks later.
That was 28 years, three children and numerous businesses ago.
“It worked out,” he said. “It’s not like everything is always rosy. There are ups and downs. There is always a little stress, but we’ve always made it work. It’s all a part of everyone’s life. We started with basically nothing. We got married in 1985, both working long hours for different businesses.”
“After we got married he got up at 4 a.m.,” said Pragna. “When I asked ‘where are you going?’ he said he was going to work. I knew nothing about his lifestyle or income. I married the person.”
Robin, 53, grew up in England and Pragna, 52, in Africa.
“I still love England. It is still in my heart and it is still partially home,” he said. “I go back every year and drink good beer with some good friends.”
He said growing up in “the olden days,” there were no computers. “We would make go-carts and play soccer in the streets. It was a different society.”
Pragna was born in Zambia. She studied in India during her education and then London for her last years of college.
The couple moved from Diamond Bar, Calif., to Arizona in 1988 to be closer to family when their first child Reena, 25, was born. Since then, two other children joined the family. They are Angelina, 20, son Ricky, 26.
As their family grew, so did their businesses. In 1992, the couple began acquiring businesses at a fast and furious pace that is still in high gear. They bought their first hotel in Flagstaff in 1992. It is now the Super Rate next to Barnes and Noble. Then came the Canyon Inn in 1994. After that, they opened a car rental company, which they sold. Next they opened a retail center and dry cleaners in 1998. “We sold it and then built the Comfort Inn Suites in Tempe in 1999,” Robin said.
Next stop was Globe where they opened the Holiday Inn. Then they opened a Travel Lodge in West Palm Beach, Fla. They then bought an I-Hop in Vero Beach, Fla. Then they opened retail space in Flagstaff where the Chipotle and Panda Express do business. Then they went into the car wash business, which is Speedy Car Wash and Fuel.
Meanwhile, Robin was on the Tourism Board for Flagstaff and was a founding member of the Flagstaff Lodging and Restaurant Association. He was on the board of the Asian/American Hotel Association. He also was one of the founders of Premier Commercial Bank in Anaheim.
And the couple loves living in Flagstaff.
“You know everyone and everyone knows you. You have a sense of responsibility in the community and do things to benefit the community,” he said about Flagstaff.
Robin gives back by serving on committees, mentoring young people and opening up his businesses for fund-raising events.
In 2003, the couple began getting involed in an organization called Polio Children, which helps children in India and Africa.
Robin does not intend to slow down, although Pragna would like him to slow the pace just a little.
“My mind is always running, night and day,” said Robin.